Forget the Premier League, kids' football is where the real talent is at.
If your child's a budding Messi or Ronaldo, and you've lost Saturday mornings to standing on a freezing-cold sideline, then you might recognise a few of these...
1.You’ll need a warm coat
Most of the games are played in the winter so you’ll do a lot of standing around in the cold. The worst is when it rains. Supporting your kid’s team to victory on Wandsworth Common when you’re soaking wet and freezing cold is the ultimate test of parenthood.
2. Where does their kit go?
Trying to get your kids ready for a game is a nightmare. Why can they never find their kit?
Yes, you need two socks.
Where did you take your shin pads off?
Are your boots in the car?
No, you cant just wear a blue jumper!!!
Are those boots or just lumps of mud?!
3. You have to make sacrifices
Once your child has commited to their team, your weekend’s not your own.
Early kick-offs are the best, they generally leave you enough time in the rest of day to do other stuff. Afternnoon kick-offs are the worst, no time in the morning to go shopping and no time in the afternoon to paint the spare room, and if its an afternoon away game, by the time you’ve travelled there and back it’s time to go to bed.
4. You’d better be good at plumbing
Forget jumpers for goalposts. Kids’ goals need putting together. You’re given a big bag full of plastic pipes that fit together in some strange way to make a goal. There’ll always be a few bits missing and no instructions.
5. You’ll need to be tall
As your kids get older, the goals get bigger too. These bigger goals are normally permantly fixed in the ground, so don’t need erecting, but they do need to have the nets put up – a fiddly job at the best of times.You’ll need to be at least 6ft 5in to tie them onto the crossbar. When the wind’s blowing and your fingers are frozen, this will be the biggest achivement of your entire weekend.
6.That dreaded moment
Blame it on the weather or public transport but sometimes the ref doesn’t turn up for the game and one of the dads has to step up.
‘We need one of you to ref’: the dreaded words as suddenly every parent reaches for their phone and disappears to take a private call. But you were too late and, like a rabbit caught in the lights of an oncoming truck, you’re asked to REF!
Once you’ve reffed an under-10s game, you’ll never moan about a poor decision ever again. And if you give a free kick against your team – or worse, your own child – your weekend is OVER.
7. He’s offside!
Not as bad as being the ref but still not an easy task: being a linesman.
Everyone knows the offside rule, right?
You never get it wrong when you’re watching MOTD but it’s not so easy when you’re doing it for real and standing amongst the opposition parents.
8. He’s a big lad for 11
The other team is always bigger. When the opponents arrive, they look like fully grown men with beards and beer bellies compared to your little babies. It’s going to be boys v men out there. Then your boys go onto win 10-0.
9. They don’t look very big!
You lose 10-0.
10. It’s only a game
Their coach is one of those blokes who’s got one of those voices that just gets right on your nerves.
This is not what kids’ football is all about, why can’t he control himself?
Meanwhile, you shout at the top of your voice
‘ONE TOUCH FOOTBALL AFC,
BODY STRENGTH OWEN, GET STUCK IN HARRY!’
11. No shows
You’ve seen the fixtures, you’ve planned your day to fit around the game – then at the last moment the other team pulls out… Grrrrrrrr!
12. You’ve still got it
In our day, it was a different game. We kept it simple and pure, none of these stepovers, rainbow flicks and Rabonas… When did that become a thing?!
(As you give it a go and dislocate your knee.)
13. That special feeling
As a parent, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as seeing your nipper score a goal or pull off top draw save. It’s as if you’ve scored the goal yourself… PROUD!
14. Who needs the Premier League?
Supporting your kids’ team through thick and thin is what grass-roots football is all about. Watching them battle it out against another is better than anything you’ll see on the telly – and, if they win, you’re set up for the week!